Last month, at the 2013 National Postal Forum, Debora Haskel and I introduced the concept of official, hybrid and promotional direct mail designs, and how they increase open and response rates, during our “Creative Inspiration for Making Mail Irresistible” presentation. There was excellent audience participation, and one individual asked for guidance on deciding which design theme to use. As promised during the recap of our presentation, we’d like to dive into the characteristics of each theme, what considerations should be top of mind for marketers and which type of insert should accompany each theme.
Official: Relies on Previous Relationship
The official theme is clean, has minimal copy and a minimal color palette. It’s typically the safest direct mail design because the customer needs to open the mail piece to reveal the offer. It prevents the customer from instantaneously making a decision based on the envelope because the contents of the mail piece could be relevant to an account or previously established relationship. These types of mailers are often cheaper to produce because of the limited branding and use of imagery.
As you might imagine, the official envelope design is accompanied by an official form. In other words, it has a full letter with limited color palette and no imagery. The benefit and call to action are highlighted throughout, and the form includes a Johnson Box.
Hybrid: When Subtle Branding Is Influential
The hybrid theme is also clean, but it has moderate branding and simple copy tone. It can be successfully implemented by any company that feels its brand has an influence on the recipient. It’s important for the creative elements to maintain a conservative appearance while compelling the recipient to engage further within the package. Think of a hybrid design as official with a subtle brand influence.
The Hybrid form also includes a letter and prominent call to action, but it has an eye-catching side bar with cross-channel fulfillment options as well as a robust color palette and engaging design to create a path for readers’ eyes to follow.
Promotional: When Heavy Branding Drives the Offer
The promotional theme is brand driven, bold and uses eye-catching images. It’s typically leveraged when brand and offer collide. These mailings are quickly judged by the end user and have bold headlines, dramatic color and imagery that are used to drive response. These creative elements are often utilized in the retail market and often surround specific promotions or products.
The promotional form is highly brand driven. It uses heavy color, creative design and full-color imagery. Like the hybrid form, it also has a useful sidebar, but the main focus is a visual that literally jumps off the page.
Choosing the right design is the first step toward improved response rates. If you have any questions regarding which of these three direct mail designs is right for you, please don’t hesitate to contact me. I’d love to discuss your next project.
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